6, July 2016
I am concerned that this question of proving an alleged consent of parties out side a treaty framework conflates the international law basis on which the creation of states and the right of trust territories to independence clearly laid out in the UN treaty regime must firmly be considered. The voting pattern of the Republic of Cameroun against the plebiscites in the territories of the British Cameroons ie Northern and Southern Cameroons is irrevocable proof that the plebiscites themselves cannot be considered as evidence of consent by a non consenting party, non participating party to the plebiscite. Nor can the opinion of some individuals no matter how influential they might have been at the time be relied on to conclude that the consenting and non consenting parties were ad idem on a supposed union and the terms of the supposed putative union.
The committee of experts established by the Republic of Cameroun as part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Cameroun considered all the arguments which some have considered as evidence of a union and come out with the conclusion that no treaty of a union exist leading Professor and expert in the committee to construe the so-called peaceful revolution in 1972 as the creation of a new nation called then the United Republic of Cameroun. That was a smart attempt to interpret history because absent a union treaty as mandated by article 102 of the UN Charter, and absent an informed consent of the parties reduced into treaty specifying the terms of the treaty relating to the nature of the relationship of the supposed parties, Ahidjo purported to seek the franchise of the people of both the Republic of Cameroun and the Southern Cameroons about the putative union through a referendum.
That was the intendment of the referendum and those who have eyes should access the records and read for themselves. His clear intention was to correct the absence of a union treaty on the basis of which the occupation of the Southern Cameroons was anchored through purportedly seeking the consent of the concerned parties through a referendum. Unfortunately this referendum which he called the peaceful revolution suffered even more illegalities: It was conducted under a state of emergency and violated Cameroun’s treaty obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. There was therefore no valid franchise as Kale Kales were organized to intimidate the population before, during and after the poll. The abolition of political parties in 1966, the abduction of Ernest Ouandie in 1969 and his assassination on 15 January 1971 formed the basis of tighten the state of emergency which was extended to the Southern Cameroons since 1963. The right to boycott or abstain the pool was not allowed or tolerated.
Due to the state of emergency, there was no citizen education about the options available if any. The decree calling for the poll was immediate and the supposed vote of OUI and YES in many polling stations were clearly an imposition on a quarantined citizenry. If this referendum was called and imposed to legitimize the annexation, it failed to conform to or comply with the requirements of the Geneva Convention on the Law of Treaties and article 102 of the UN Charter. The treaty basis of this mandatory treaty obligation is intended also to notify the UN about the alteration of the colonial boundaries of a member state which unless modified by treaty, remain sacrosanct as inherited at independence. This is consistent with the African Constitutive Act as well. Denis Atemkeng, Professor Anyangwe and many international law experts have written on this and I totally associate with their opinio juris.
Before even Ahidjo or Biya could take any move to validate the annexation through the 1972 referendum, Paul Biya stepped in and nullified it in 1984. That fraudulent attempt to whitewash the annexation of the territory of the Southern Cameroons through the illegal referendum to obviate its UN treaty obligations against the resort to force and colonial imposition to annex territory was subverted by the vitiation of the criminal referendum and its legal effects which reverted LRC to the status quo ante at its independence on January 1 1960. Since the fraudulent 1972 referendum or peaceful revolution never succeeded in providing a treaty base duly registered at the UN pursuant to article 102 of the UN Charter for the annexation of the Southern Cameroons or the modification of the boundaries of LRC through a purported consent obtained through that referendum that in 1972 even before it was nullified by Paul Biya in 1984, the status quo ante of LRC at independence remains. That status quo is the affirmation and recognition of its international boundaries in January 1 1960.
I have stated that consent in law is not a mere assertion of a set of facts and say this fact constitutes consent and this does not. If consent is derived on some inferences made, the inferences must be the only reasonable inferences to be made in the circumstances. For example some persons have jumped on Muna’s committee speech to the UN to purport to find consent without having the benefit of reading and knowing what Charles Okalla and a huge delegation of LRC said in contradiction. They must go back to 1952 and read the forceful arguments of Um Nyobe for Unification before independence and that of LRC other leaders in opposition. They must read the UN fact finding mission reports the last of which was in 1958 which advised against unification.
We must therefore assess the basis of the current situation in which we find ourselves outside the considerations of alleged consent as there was none and none can legally be inferred in a legal context which mandates a treaty, We must first as good scholars first characterize our present predicament as that of colonized or territorially annexed people. I know that the inadequate knowledge of the French language and the French component of this case by some has forced them to consider but a piecemeal approach to understanding this case. But no reasonable lawyer makes a case based on the relations between parties without a detailed understanding of the case of one of the parties.
The case made out by LRC lies on their construction of the alleged referendum of 1972 which was quickly vitiated by Paul Biya in 1984 even before it was formalized at the UN as mandated by article 102 of the Charter and the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. LRC’s case does not lie on alleged inferred consent or some other tenuous legal constructs. It is the alleged referendum 1972, 1972 and 1972 which they celebrate every 20th May and call it ” fete de l’unite nationale”. This is as clear and as obvious as day follows night. They sing it, they celebrate it and we are witnesses to this provocation year in year out. Do our people need any lawyer to explain to them what they are living through and the song of provocation and the feast of annexation they witness and even forced to celebrate alongside the armed forces and the colonial administration of its colonizer? Why attempt to look elsewhere for reasons which they have carefully considered and rejected to justify their claims to the territory of the Southern Cameroons?
Biya was aware of this when he failed to acknowledge and celebrate the anniversary of the so-called reunification in Buea on October 1. Neither he nor Ahidjo considered October 1, 1961 as a reunification day because prior that date and event Ahidjo had already sent in forces to annex the Southern Cameroons. Besides LRC was not a party to the event on October 1, 1961. It voted against and did not recognize it as such. It indeed resent October 1, 1961 because it forms our very basis for our claims of external self determination and the respect of international legality. It indeed forms the basis of our assertion of independence with the blessings of the international community.
As Mola Njoh Litumbe has said again and again they resent this date because it forms the very basis and justification for our quest for freedom and independence. That is why rather respect that event, it modified its constitution to annex the territory even before the event. What event therefore can be construed or inferred as consent to a purported union even if that were possible in the law of treaty which it is not? I beg to ask.
Our duty is to look for ways of means of resolving this problem rather than preaching a litany of uninformed sermons to those who are living the reality of the annexation and colonial rule.
His Royal Highness Chief Charles A. Taku